Military Home Buyers May 21, 2024

3 Big House Hunting Tips for Homes Near Wright-Patterson AFB

PCS season is almost in full swing here at Wright-Patterson AFB, and I am excited to meet new military families on their way to Ohio.

As a former military spouse, I remember what it’s like to search for a home in unknown cities. It’s a challenging time for military home buyers, so I am here to help you with your house hunt. You can always reach out to me if you have any questions about relocating to the Dayton area, but if you want some initial information, here are my best tips to get you started.

1. Create a Budget

Calculating your home buying budget is an important first step. Seeing the numbers in black and white helps you identify your home purchase goals. For example, the budget for buying a “move-in ready” home is different from buying a “fixer-upper” that you want to invest in over several years.

Many military members I work with immediately review their Basic Housing Allowance and guesstimate a manageable mortgage payment from those figures. Your BAH rate is a fine place to start, but you’ll have to dig deeper into your finances and lifestyle to truly understand how much house you can afford to buy.


Big Picture Financial Goals

Take a hard look at big-picture financial goals like paying off debt and saving for retirement. You should account for future financial goals in your home buying budget to understand how those goals influence the final home purchase amount.


Everyday Living Expenses

Costs for everyday expenses like food, utilities, child care, HOAs, commuting costs, and taxes vary widely depending on your exact location and the type of home you’d like to buy. I’m happy to share examples of standard utility and property tax costs in the Wright-Patt AFB area. You can also get an idea from online cost of living comparison calculators like the one at Forbes or NerdWallet.


Loan Pre-Approval

Some buyers like to have a pre-approval letter in hand before they start house hunting. It helps them create an overall budget.

Keep in mind, though, that just because the bank says you’re approved for a certain amount doesn’t mean it’s wise to use it all if it derails your budget goals.

If you don’t have a lender to work with, don’t worry. I work with trusted lender partners specializing in serving military members in the Wright-Patt area.

Learn about VA Loan Basics for Military Home Buyers: Down Payments, Eligibility, and More.


2. Define Your Must-Haves for Your Home

It’s easy to get lost in the pretty details of a new home, especially for military buyers who have suffered through worn-out rental houses and on base housing. Now that you’re in charge, anything goes right? Well, yes, but defining your must-have qualities helps you get what you need and some of the amenities you want.

After buyers decide how much weight to give their budget and location parameters, they usually start to prioritize the property’s features.

These are as individual and personal as each home buyer. Your ranked list will probably look different, but these are typical considerations.

  • One-floor or multiple-story home
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Garage
  • Basement or bonus space
  • Home office
  • Storage
  • Open floor plan
  • Updated finishes
  • Upgraded kitchen and bathrooms
  • Move-in ready
  • Project home


3. Research the Area

Military buyers know that when the slightest possibility of PCS pops up, it’s almost impossible to resist scrolling real estate ads and researching where your favorite stores and restaurants are in the new city. Getting familiar with your new hometown from afar is exciting and reassuring.

When it comes time to commit to buying a home, however, intimately understanding the location is paramount. Many factors can influence your family’s comfort and safety while living there. Also, don’t forget your exit strategy—whether you want to sell or rent your property in the future makes a difference in your purchase decision.

Don’t feel overwhelmed trying to learn each neighborhood. I’ll share my best advice about each location you’re interested in.


Safety First

You’re not alone if one of your first questions about the location is, “Is it safe?” My best tip is to do some sleuthing online. The local police or sheriff’s department shares crime information with the citizens. You can also look at City Protect, a crime mapping service, or the National Sex Offender Public Website.


Local Schools

One of the few things military families get to control is what school you’d like your child to attend. If school is your top priority, you’ll want to spend plenty of time researching statistics and programming in addition to parents’ personal accounts before buying a home in that district.

I suggest connecting with Wright-Patt’s School Liaison Officer and PTO/PTA organizations. It’s also helpful to join Wright-Patt parent Facebook groups and drop your questions there. In the meantime, check out multiple sources like Ohio School Report Cards and School Digger for more details. Private School Review is the go-to resource if you prefer non-public schools.


Convenience to Amenities

It’s well-documented that if you live near sought-after stores and restaurants like Target and Starbucks, your property’s value reflects the demand, so it’s a plus to live near those outlets, but maybe you don’t love the direct hub-bub that circles popular locations. You’ll have to decide your threshold for how long you would like to drive to your everyday necessities and favorite places.


Commute Times

Unless you prefer rural living with loads of privacy, you likely want to keep your commute to the base short. Spend a few days logging drive times between the address you’re considering and Wright-Patt. If your family likes to use base amenities, check in during the morning and evening rush hours and on the weekends.


Nearby Construction

Would it be a deal breaker if the home you loved was in a new neighborhood and construction noise would occur for months or years ahead? Or how about if the main highways on the way to work were scheduled for a two-year rehab? Details like this are hard to come by if you don’t live in the area, so I always mention quality-of-life factors like these that would help you make your buying decision.

I know you have plenty of questions about buying a home, and I’m ready to help. Please accept my invitation to contact me. I’m looking forward to meeting you!